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Research: Despite What You Might Think, Sexting Isn't Just About Sex

Sexting is extremely common among adults-but maybe not for the reasons you think.

According to new research by the Texas Tech University Department of Psychological Sciences, two-thirds of sexers do so for nonsexual reasons.

Professor Joseph M. Currin, assistant professor, and Kassidy C. Cox, doctoral student, conducted a study of the reasons people sext with their partner. They confirmed three main motivations previously identified in research:

- Some people use sexting as foreplay for sexual behaviors later on; - Some sext for the relationship reassurance they receive from their partner; and

Some people sext their partner for a favor. The expectation is that the favor will return later in a non-sexual manner (such as a dinner with them).

Currin and Cox wanted to find out which of these motivations was most common when they started their research. They performed a latent analysis of 160 participants ranging in age between 18 and 69. This included data about sexting motivations as well as relationship attachments. They discovered three clusters that were nearly identical, which suggests that no one motivation is more common than the other.

Cox stated, "It was amazing that two thirds of the individuals who engaged with sexting did it for nonsexual purposes." "This may actually be demonstrating some individuals engage in sexting, but would prefer not to, but do so as a means to either gain affirmation about their relationship, relieve anxiety or get something tangible-non-sexual-in return."

The researchers were also surprised to discover that there was no significant difference in motivation based upon sexual orientation, gender, or age.

Cox stated that "this study highlighted the main reasons that individuals are motivated sext and it actually normalizes all of these motivations."

Currin stated, "Sexting is becoming a more accepted way of communicating one’s sexual desires. We wanted to highlight how adults use this behavior in their relationships." "This tells us that sexting among adults is an evolution of how we have communicated our sexual desires to our partners in the past.

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